Liberty County residents who wish to file a homestead exemption for the 2012 tax year have until April 1 to do so, according to tax commissioner Virgil Jones.
“Many residents believe that homestead exemptions no longer exist after the state Legislature did away with the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant in 2008,” Jones said. “When this grant ended, many homeowners saw a substantial increase in their property taxes for tax year 2009, thus leaving them to believe that homestead exemptions were done away with.”
But the exemptions still do exist, and applications are accepted year-round at the Liberty County Assessor’s Office, 112 N. Main St. Applications received after April 1 will be applied to a property owner’s 2013 taxes.
The exemption only can be claimed on one residence, and the applicant must own and occupy the home as of Jan. 1, 2012. It must be occupied as a permanent residence and place of abode and also must be the legal residence of the applicant for all purposes.
Once granted, the homestead exemption is renewed automatically each year. The taxpayer does not have to apply again unless there is a change of ownership or the taxpayer seeks to qualify for a different kind of exemption.
Liberty County has local exemptions that supersede the state exemptions:
• The local regular homestead exemption is available to homeowners who are not yet 62 years old and who otherwise qualify by ownership and residency requirements. It is a $2,000 exemption off the 40 percent assessed value on state taxes, and $5,000 off the 40 percent assessed value on your county and school taxes. The value of the property in excess of the exempted amounts shall remain subject to taxation.
• The first homestead exemption based on age requires that the taxpayers must otherwise qualify by ownership and residency requirements and they must be 62 years old on Jan. 1 of this tax year. There are no income requirements. Proof of age — copy of driver’s license or birth certificate — is required. This is a $17,000 exemption off the 40 percent assessed value on school taxes and a $15,000 exemption off the 40 percent assessed value on county taxes. The value of the property in excess of the exempted amounts shall remain subject to taxation.
• The second age-based exemption offers the higher exemption. “It requires that the homeowner is 65 or older on Jan. 1 of the tax year and meets the ownership and residency requirements,” Jones said. “Applicants must have a net income of less than $10,000 and must provide proof. This is an exemption of $25,000 off the 40 percent assessed value on your school taxes and a $15,000 exemption off the 40 percent assessed value on your county tax.”
Other exemptions may be available for taxpayers such as the Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption, unremarried surviving spouse of a disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty. For qualified homeowners residing within the city limits of Hinesville, there is no homestead exemption from city taxes.
Some elderly residents are qualified to receive an exemption from paying the solid-waste fee.
There is an age and income requirement to be eligible for this exemption.
For questions or more information, call the assessor’s office at 876-3568 or the tax commissioner’s office at 876-3389.